Joined on November 19, 2005
Last Post on June 23, 2013
@ June 23, 2013 5:06 PM in Steam Assoc Planning Meeting...June 21, ChicagoThanks for the excellent meeting, the supremely wonderful company and the all the steamy little chitchat that I doubt is available anywhere else in the universe except for these unique gatherings.
Steam heat. If we don't call it forced steam - it's because you don't have to clobber customers on the head to tell them they will like it. And maybe that's our problem in this industry, the RSES people and all of us are genuinely way too nice. We're looking forward to joining the RSES.
Thanks for the food and the doughnuts. The bread from the caterer was splendidly done; I'll bet it was baked in a steam oven.
@ June 20, 2013 2:23 PM in Steam Assoc Planning Meeting...June 21, ChicagoWe're on the way. Flying down the interstate at the speed of steam. Efficiency.
@ May 21, 2013 10:06 PM in whatever happened to the development of a steam assoc.?It's so nice to see you all. I can't believe how long the time has been.
If we want to rock on, we should meet in Cleveland, well because, Cleveland rocks. Dayton's claim to musical discoveries is Funk, so let's get rolling first.
My find-a-pro page is working.
Thanks Dan and your excellent team.
@ May 20, 2013 10:45 PM in whatever happened to the development of a steam assoc.?Hello everyone, longtime no post, but time flies at the speed of steam. I've also long wanted to find a movie star to champion a boiler sanctuary where we'd send old and tired boilers for a well earned retirement of loving care in beautiful coal field pastures – just like they do with old zoo bugs and horses in Hollywood while the young boilers full of steam take on the lead. You've all seen the touching pictures of the venerable boilers that gave us all the good life and the good comfort. The great generation. Upstanding stuff.
Would anyone really think of stopping to look at a used furnace coughing out old dust and oozing condensate slime? Deep down we all know the truth and the real comfort of warm bodies.
Meanwhile, I'm setting up a business page here – long overdue. Check it out when it opens.
I already have the motto : INSTAURARE OMNIA IN VAPORE and we pray to St Cecilia for good steam. And it seems from this post that there is also a good base for an Ohio chapter to this Steam Team.
Best wishes to all
@ July 18, 2007 11:17 PM in OK, who was it?I believe New York's steam is set at 130 PSI throughout the system - no low pressure sub piping - this makes this steam highly useful for air conditioning. One of few pressure regulating points is located near Grand Central Note that pressure has not much to do with water hammer, a simple slug of water collapsing onto a vacuum will cause pipe busting ravages. This is the scenario encountered so easily during the warm up and initial steam filling of the pipes. Summer repairs and main valves and drain valves casually opened and closed during what could seem a routine maintenance job are dangerously left to the untrained. (Note, that I have no idea of what may have happened in NY today) Also, pressurized hot water district heat is no safer either. To the water hammer problems and the pressurization, you also add cavitation problems, a whole other layer of frights. Steam is suffocating, water is scalding and if we'd all live in Hawaii, we'd need neither.
@ July 18, 2007 10:29 PM in Snow/ice melt for eaves and gutters?Good reasons for melting roof snow is if you'd get a flood whenever the drain holes freeze - this is a particular problem on roofs that don't clear the walls and parts of the roof that remain in the shade. Valleys that turn into lakes are a catastrophe well worth the BTU for melting. Another very good (and very scary) reason is if the roof isn't built strong enough for the weight of maximum snow + reroof + ponding lake + newer AC work in the attic. I know of a bunch of roofs around here that are piped for melting. All done in steam, most simply by dangling a steel pipe up and down the valleys and gutters on the underside of the roof. The steam risers parallel the internal downpours. Roofs where the scheme was abandoned have gotten into costly leak repairs. With water, I would stay away from the copper piping. Even with glycol, you can't guarantee that it won't be just water one day. Copper pipes don't resist even the slightest frost, and it freezes first and fast right up under the roof. I've had my fill of busted copper pipes within ceiling spaces. Plastic is much safer -though not foolproof. Double piping makes the leaks drain to somewhere manageable, this is handy in domestic water applications, for heat transfer it is not as good. Also, for safety, keep the attic loop shut off from the water main - in case it does freeze and bust you won't have a sprinkler. This application is really well suited for steam where you can keep traps all the way downstairs where they won't typically freeze.
@ July 18, 2007 10:10 PM in Who wants to help me write an ad? (Dan H.)Steamy hot pictures Kinky pipes Dopey tricks Behind the scene boiler tours Unadulterated water closet talk Is it crank it up? Hot science made for fun Talk about the knuckleheads Drop that header Foreign travel connections Sewer talk Find people with your same problems and same passions Efficiencies discussed efficiently, whew Add balance to a busniess plan Cry over the utility bill Not a lot of hot air Blood money, hush money, how to just get paid Who's in hot water? A place to chill Hector who? The library, the books and so much more Confidence A wall of people who support each other brick by brick, prayer by prayer ... And before I go off floating on a cloud of steam, thanks Dan, for all that you do
@ July 10, 2007 11:37 PM in firing 2 pipe steam for low pressureBefore spending anything on converted controls make sure your whole plant system can run at any minimum pressure. Look for condensate lifts hiding anywhere. With such lifts, you'll still have to raise the pressure in cycles exactly like you suggest doing now. It doesn't necessarily matter that pressure is not up all the way up all the time. Otherwise, Brad is right on with getting a burner that modulates. In the crudest, simply going from high to low is often enough sophistication. Perhaps your current burner is even ready for that. Now you won't be pre purging and post purging every 90 seconds. You're thinking straight, Good for you.
@ July 10, 2007 11:13 PM in Can we post a Steam Boiler For Sale Here?Key operand word here is one pipe steam. I have no clue about your detailed heating needs and climate, but my mind sees about 100,000 to 200,000 square feet of floor space spread over a bunch of buildings. The buildings each are one pipe beauties while the underground tunnels contain the connecting mains and very probably a wet return. You have air vents everywhere. I'm only guessing. This scenario makes it very important to have enough puff power in the boiler to get the whole system heating. It's not either bad or good, it is just important and much more so than in the more usual two pipe radiators with thermostatic traps. Your large boiler dealer is almost certainly thinking two pipe and traps. Your description of having bigger heating bills with the new and half size boiler fits the one pipe miss-sizing diagnostic. It's depressing but don't think either that such sizing issues only matter in steam - they matter for all heating systems. Just try huddling around one candle instead of a real campfire. Effectiveness is gone while system efficiencies are lost in the dilution of the minimized heat into something only so very slightly hot it is of not much useful value anymore. All that is true of all heating systems (and a whole lot of other things in life too). With steam though, the symptoms are very obvious and you are rightfully reacting to the sting of the fuel bill. It's good we can feel steam. Zoning the system by putting valves on the various main branches of this one pipe system is an ill conceived idea. One pipe systems do not agree well to having gated steam. It is entirely possible to either fully open and close valves on each radiator, but doing this on a main branch is something else altogether and quite a bit more tricky. If the radiators were on two pipe and trap, along with having main returns at atmospheric pressure (or more technically on a pressure differential with the steam mains) then the steam zone valves would be the easiest and most natural thing to do. One acceptable way to artificially spread the heat around is to use metering orifices. Dunham did it even on one pipe systems. This is a job that will call for huge balancing skills. One wildly exotic method for accelerating steam distribution is to attach all the radiator vents to a small air line that leads to a sucking vacuum pump. This vacuum pump will be a substitute for the undersized boiler's shortage of air puffing power. I'm also hoping your system is properly vented and that you have more than adequate main branch venting. You need lots. Perhaps your system is suffering from unbalanced venting which would just make your boiler problems even worse. Lastly This may be of value no matter what you do, it is perfectly possible to zone the heat in a one pipe system; again you can't zone steam so what you do most simply is to zone the air. You put zone valves on the air vent. It is the common practice of using thermostatic valves, just all wired up. All common supplies too. Remember though, that this air zoning is of no help whatsoever in overcoming the shortages of an undersized boiler. You need puffing cycles to get the system to modulate. (Which you mentioned to your installer... :) And in the same vein, modulation being something good, instead of scrapping your current boiler for a bigger one, perhaps adding a second one would work wonders. A duo often yields more harmonious high low fire efficiencies than what can be done in just one big boiler. Options for disposing of a good boiler, check out companies that lend boilers in an emergency - they sell that stuff all the time. Some machine dealers also keep good stocks of used boilers. Try also some consignment sales websites. If you are in an industrial area, this should be easier. Best of luck. At least you didn't get a 300 hp boiler.
@ July 8, 2007 2:21 PM in laundry hot waterThis is exciting, with the new steam boiler, there will be so much more opportunities for neat equipment such as the super powerful and fire proof steam heated clothes dryer... leave the electric and the natural gas appliances behind in a cloud of lint. Just to think also of the ironing machines and the steam cabinets. Oooh all the fun chores. Check also with your boiler manufacturer if they have an economizer to attach to your flue for perhaps excessive fuel savings. And also keep opportunities open for flexible fuel switch, oil, gas, whatever is cheapest for the day. For temperature control valves and other steam stuff, Sterlco of Milwaukee makes the easy to trace failed shut thermostatic radiator traps. They also make thermostatic valves with bulbs for your application. Perhaps worth looking into. And just to kick around some more ideas, I'm not sure of the purpose or the benefit of the 15 PSI pressure reducing valve. http://www.sterlco.com/index.cfm/datakey/3/category/Steam%20Control%20Products.html
@ July 8, 2007 11:46 AM in cold basementNo mention of upstairs floors being cold along with the fact the home is multistoried makes me think of screaming air infiltration. Hot air takes the road to the heavens, buoyancy makes it float upstairs and then out the roof and up and up and up. While all this is happening, frozen stiff cold air squeezes itself into your home. Being cold, it fills your rooms from the bottom up - like you would fill a pool, even though the cold air might not be entering the home from the bottom. Some infiltration in the home is vital, normal infiltration should not be perceptible and too much causes the effects you describe. Rather than go for more heat which seems hardly ever necessary in a 1920's home that was probably well endowed boiler wise to begin with, here's what I'd try first. Limit air flow between house levels. Keep floor doors closed. Keep all room doors closed - upstairs and downstairs. If you have open stairs, consider installing either a door or some heavy drapes at a convenient point. Doors to basement and attic should be sealed like we do doors to the outside. Skylights to the heated indoors, if applicable, should be kept closed very tight. Whole house ceiling exhaust fans are a huge problem in the winter - make sure you seal them off with plastic and tape, the automatic louvers are just not up to it. Also prevent too much air infiltration into your basement. If a new window budget is not available, try first sealing the windows for the winter season with the plastic sheets. Possibly, install new windows first in the rooms where it is too hot... this may seem counterintuitive, but be advised that air infiltration is best fought first where the air leaks out. It is not as noticeable and yet it's in the upstairs hot air leaks that the pressure gradient is biggest to force the biggest leaking draughts. One single upstairs window crack that doesn't shut is a nasty disaster. Once that is occurring, cold air will seep in anywhere else and fall to the downstairs floor until it warms up and is ready for the big ride. Heating the birds is not the goal of home heating. What's worse, adding more heat to your current set up might very well cause more of this air change problem and more colder downstairs floors. I've worked one such case that was plain horrible, 1951 home, 3 floors, basement, new insulation, lower floor radiant heat plus new panel rads and modcon, and now the occupant's legs would freeze off on the ground floor living room... open stair shaft and really leaky third floor windows... but it wasn't ever cold up there, ahem, why fuss about those windows? yeah. By then, they had three times upgraded the heat system, insulated the walls and replaced some windows and fuel bills were eating them alive. Of course, make sure your steam heat is working just right. Luckily, steam radiators are very well suited for heating leaky draughty old homes with the greatest economy. Otherwise, playing out in the cold was considered vivifying for the kids at one time - it clearly seems to me that playing out in the cold snow is never a problem. Funny how it all changes when the job is about shoveling the snow. :)
@ July 7, 2007 12:02 AM in Three phase motorsOlden motors were built as big as washing machines and they were cool. Nowadays, marketing brochures tout the so-called modern efficiency of super motors that can be built real tiny and have huge nameplate horsepower. There is always progress of course, but such miniaturization comes at your own risk. The more modern the motor is, the more it gets really hot. If you believe the horsepower rating has been faked a bit too much on the label, then install a new motor with a bigger physical size and now what would seem a way oversized label. Check with the manufacturer on what they think is too hot, then measure your motor. Too hot to touch with the hand has sadly become normal, particularly in hot summer weather. You know it's too hot when it starts smelling like it's fried, and then it's too late too. Thermal protection that works is a must. If you are on 208V, then visible overheating is that much more to be expected. If you have a transformer with taps, you could try bumping up your nominal voltage. For the rest, kiss and hug your power meter for the three phase you have and be extremely glad you are not fighting with a single phase motor and all the baggage that comes with that. I love three phase power and too bad for Edison and his elephants. Tesla knew it, Morgan made it happen.
@ July 6, 2007 11:29 PM in Jet-Lagged (Steamhead)You certainly don't seem pooped after such a long trip. Welcome back. Did you get any pictures of the oh so exotic TLV steam traps made in Japan? They are huge in Europe too.
@ July 6, 2007 11:12 PM in Problems with Lo-Flo Toilets in Older Houses?Yeah these machines are so personal, I feel it gets a little crowded in there, plus it's not like they just hand you a towel and discreetly turn their back on you, no... these bowls pretend to be emotionless. Did you experience the non Westernized squat deal? - where the human has to be motionless. All this is so interesting, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry has a waterized display of a whole house plumbing with see-through pipes. I took pictures of that... and the steam radiators.
@ July 6, 2007 10:30 PM in Problems with Lo-Flo Toilets in Older Houses?I don't understand Japanese of course, nonetheless I instantaneously pick up on the meaning of the blue pictogram with the number three on its back and the jet d'eau... it must prevent the guests from screaming in surprise but I am wondering whether it shouldn't be covered up by a modest bit of black tape, should it? We are talking about the water closet. Photo no. 35. ;) Thanks for the pictures, we all knew they would be good. Yup, Mark, he did.
@ July 3, 2007 11:55 PM in laundry hot waterWhen building boilers, we choose the exchange surface metal, the heat transfer area and the operating temperatures. Once that is all set, we still need to fill the machine with a heating fluid. Water is always handy and hard to beat for intuitive simplicity, but at about 338 F, it will require all the pressure steam commands, 100 PSI. No difference. Now, you know how we whine about using antifreeze mixtures precisely because they can handle less of a heat load per pound than ordinary tap water does? Oh, the difference is smallish, and we're really into whining, but it does bite away at the efficient heat transfer we expect from our set boiler. Choose to replace the heating fluid with air, and watch in horror at what happens with a further bit less of heat carrying capability. We are whiners. What if I told you all of a fantastic heating fluid that handles on the order of a thousand times more heat per pound? Sounds delightful, doesn't it? Any short comings in heat exchanger metal and limited surface area are patched over by this incredible super heating medium. I am talking steam, of course. It's perhaps not as easy to design up front, because we are talking about having three items flow altogether in one single pipe, that's air, steam, and water - you have to wrap your brain around it, dealing with plain water is easier to conceptualize. Like everything else in life, the pay back depends in large part on the effort we put into things. Once you have a glitch free design, getting steam heat is as good as pushing the easy button. Pipe wise and pump wise, at 340 F, whether you amuse yourself with pressurized scalding water or plainly pressurized steam, both will call for special attention - the huge advantage with going for steam is that you'll have half the pipes (no pressurized returns) and they won't be as huge as with water. Pipe insulation losses alone are pleasantly smaller. A significant difference when everything is expensive: buying and maintaining beefier pumps and fatter valves becomes a quick bore once you're stuck with the big water carrying pipes. How about the big expansion tank? So far, so good. There is yet another tremendous subtlety to how steam operates. Ooh, I'm knocking myself over. Steam is smart: it delivers heat by condensing itself into water. If it can't dump the heat, it won't budge. Once it has dumped the heat it can't take it away again from the indirect tank... Hot water is not like that at all. If it can't figure out where to dump the heat it will merrily bring it back to the boiler and carelessly spill it up the flue during the off fire times. No check valve or thermal trap is ever foolproof, you can't wish gravity away. Can you guess where my love is? I'll have to finish by saying a good word for hot water. Ultimately, if all you need is plain lots of hot water to fill the washing machines, water at what? 180F, I see simple beauty in having a plainly large hot water heater (instantaneous plus storage scheme) do the trick. Just enough of everything to match your power needs, all set at 180F. Perhaps also, your current washing machines are pre-equipped for taking on supplement steam heat? That would push you over for sure. Code wise, where is the benefit? - I don't know. We have the Ohio Specials, just for us, and manufacturers design their equipment around the codes, there are also the tankless steam boilers that make vessel law a non-issue. Plain hot water tanks get all the scrutiny a commercial laundry operation warrants, steam or no steam. It's all the same thing. You don't want to skimp on safety either.
@ July 2, 2007 11:01 PM in Acetylene poisoning ?Acetylene is only dangerous for its flammability and if we forget to breathe oxygen. Acetylene is (or was?) used in medical anesthesiology. So, it can't be all that bad to either the lungs or the skin. There's more to the story. Acetylene comes to us stored in cylinders filled with liquid acetone - the diluted stuff used for removing nail polish. Now, acetone is an irritant, I think it is even toxic and what it mostly does is quickly irritate the skin to a red dermatitis. Ah ha, we have a clue. The first cure is as simple as soap and water. Are you making super sure you maintain vertical position for the acetylene bottles both during use and anytime before use? If there is a leak in your torch assembly then there is a problem. Liquids like penetrating oil go through the tiniest cracks to smear the surfaces you touch with your hand. Also, keep the acetylene valve on the tank closed at all off times. Shaking the bottle easily spills the acetone into the hose assembly. Keeping the bottle out of cooking hot vans is also helpful at keeping the acetone inside the cylinder. And of course, don't work with faulty equipment. For more, read up on MSDS documentation about both acetone and acetylene. I hope I helped you in finding the problem.
@ July 2, 2007 9:35 PM in Opinions needed on porch decking materialsWay beyond the aesthetics of a Victorian home, but splendid for strong metal floors that must not be slippery. More durable than the glued on sand grit and not as abrasive on the shoe soles. All available in steel, stainless steel and aluminum too. http://www.algrip.com/ algrip.com
@ July 2, 2007 9:19 PM in Bioler Return Trap & Alternating ReceiverHoffman makes a big do about this check valve flutter (if that's an appropriate word) on their vacuum line installations. I don't think it is ever a noise issue, at worse it is an issue with getting tight seal. Documentations on vacuumizers show their kinky approach to check valve installation. Personally, and I don't know why really, I prefer having my check valves sitting idle in exactly the same fluid they get to see when in action. If the checked line is only for handling a gas, then I don't like drowning the check valve in a water trap (this is the Hoffman obsession in vacuum lines). If the valve is for liquid control, then it is best not to trap the gadget in an air pocket. It is a way to think I have my check valve ready and primed for the job - whenever it may come. Note, noisy check valve chatter on pumped lines is something else altogether -- here in this post there is no power pump, and the extra low pressure alternating receiver does not qualify as one either. Really the important thing in condensate and air return lines is to not have water pockets in dry lines and not have air pockets in wet lines. It is so simple and yet so hard to keep it straight. + To add one more comment. What I playfully described as the ART bypass surgery is exactly the sort of decommissioning Fred referred to minus the cast iron removal. I don't disagree with Fred in the slightest, except for not holding on to the old stuff... it seems so hARTless... :) Humor aside, it is never funny to drop the cast iron ham on the foot and neither is it funny at all to discover, a bit too late, that the two pipe system imperatively has to be run on more than 1-2 PSI. This happens often enough in two pipe deals where there are condensate lifts. Lifts that are never obvious to spot either. Mostly, it is not the traditional old install that will come up with these oddities, it is the remodels where condensate returns were lifted. If the ham has been carved off the bones, you may be looking at a condensate tank and pump purchase... and who wants to use electricity. That's why I inserted a valve on my bypass return line. Thanks Tom for the kind word.
@ July 1, 2007 11:48 AM in State Regulations on Newly Invented Power BurnerJust to be facetious with my energy needs, I don't burn 2 gallons of oil per day in my fickle Ohio weather... no slide rule needed either... Years filled with 365 days of oil purchases will yield a steam production of nearly 100,000 pounds at the 2 gallon a day rate... Mild mannered homes survive easily on a steam diet of 50,000 pounds... ohhh... heat is good. Alternately, 2 gallons of oil buys me several pounds of synthetic fibers, you know, acrylic, polyfill, hollowfill, etc... enough to buy a nice pile of sweaters to keep a whole family nice and toasty... ohh... Meanwhile I don't know in what proportion certifications and licenses both help and hinder entrepreneurial creativity. They add professionalism at the cost of a bureaucratic burden. Best wishes for courage and success with your product Gene.
@ July 1, 2007 10:13 AM in Bioler Return Trap & Alternating ReceiverNo faulty logic to give queasy feelings to anyone. Pumpless condensate pumps work like magic - when they're needed. And they are needed only when the boiler pressure is speeding over the B dimension. Today simple math determines what is a safe number. That wasn't so easy to respect in the olden days of live fires. Coal was the real thing. Tom, you clearly seem to have a good handle on what your B dimension is and how not to ever exceed it. The big detail that mustn't be missed is from where we measure the B dimension. Top side - easy: the bottom of the lowest dry return. Bottom side - careful: it could be the boiler water line... it could be something else... you know... it depends... Many alternating return traps have both their heart valves piped anywhere below the water line, usually near the floor, well bellow the Hartford connection. Needless to say, the heart shaped cast iron organ is useless without functioning valves, I think keeping them well below the fluid level is better at preventing flutter. At any rate, the diagram you produced shows an arrangement were the exit valve sits at old high boiler water level. Let's not care about the low set inlet valve for now. Let's suppose you keep this original setup, with the exit valve sitting up high and you drain the outlet piping down to your new low level, if you imagine the stream of water pouring down the return you'll obviously see how that high set valve has in effect become a new false water line. Ah ha. Your new B dimension would still be exactly the same as the old one (24?) inches or whatever else it may be. This would negate the benefit of going lower with the new boiler water line because it wastes at least half of the now available B height. Too much pressure, we'd just count on the alternating trap to do its job... no problem, but why? Stacking B heights are always a shame to waste. (Technically, depending on how your equalizer connects to all this, your newly exposed false water line could be either of the outlet valve level or the old level Hartford connection - they vary by just 1-2 inch, I'm skipping over that detail) Moving the valves, what Dave meant, is the way to increase your full B dimension potential and maintain the safety operation of the alternating receiver on wild pressure, and also remove potential for flutter. Had the original valves been set near the floor as in so many typical installations, we wouldn't be typing this now. -- Transplant operation Fortunately, cast iron cardiac valve transplant surgery is painless. Even while maintaining all vital functions. Working around the receiver stem, abandon the exit piping up to the outlet valve. Also abandon the inlet valve. We won't need to touch the vertical stem itself. With a sharp scalpel it all comes out easily. Now we have several veins to reconnect: the return line that ends at the old dirt pocket, the new boiler Hartford connection and two holes on the alternating receiver stem. Most simply start at the old dirt pocket, pipe it near to the floor, don't forget to insert a new dirt pocket and also a port hole for dirt flushing purposes. Then go horizontally, through the new inlet valve, then horizontally to a tee, then straight through the tee a bit further to the outlet valve. Then, you're free to go back up to the Hartford nipple - insert again a dirt pocket on the up step, dirt pockets are good. We still have the open tee. Connect this with pipes going upwards to one of the two holes we have on the receiver stem. Plug the other old hole. There is only one pipe protruding from the bottom of the cast iron ham, it makes no difference how far we go extending this one pipe down to the new valve level. Just make sure the pipe vents upwards and that air bubbles cannot get trapped in an inverted U kink that would look like an air seal. Important. Nowhere in the new layout should you ever cause air to be trapped. This is real easy to avoid. Exit side, it vents to the equalizer, stem side it bubbles up to the receiver which is self vented, inlet drop side it vents most naturally to the air eliminator. Doing this most simply extends B height to maximum value and it maintains the alternate receiver operation. How can you go wrong? There is also another procedure: the heart bypass surgery. -- Bypass operation Do this only if you know for sure your system doesn't need to operate at any pressure higher than your available B size. Leave everything old in place, keep it there in case it really was vital and needs to be put back in service. Maintain the old Hartford connection which will now be pouring into a dry drop - nothing wrong with that, what you have is exactly a false water line that maintains your old B dimension exactly the way it was before you dropped the boiler. You could do nothing else and let the patient survive without the new life the new extended B dimension provides. To get full B use, install a bypass return from the inlet dirt pocket to your new boiler inlet. This bypasses both check valves. Pick up the connection from the old equalizer line on the way. Dirt pockets, port holes, blah blah. Add also a valve on this bypass. This new straight connection affords full use of B stacking heights without the backpressure of the two heart valves. This makes for simple system operation and if you should really really need more pressure, call for the return of the pumpless pumping action by simply closing the bypass valve. The drawback to this, is that you need to know your homeowners will figure out whether to keep the bypass valve open or shut, you'll always have to remind them. I think I would go for the valve transplant and I would try to reuse the old check valves after a good reconditioning of the internal mating surfaces. If you get new ones, make sure they open with nearly no backpressure. ** I want to go on and give more advice: make sure your patient is still breathing. Focus on the air eliminator, remove the vacuum check valve and replace it with a cut off nipple. This is the only nostril the entire system has for exhaling all air from all the mains and all the radiators. You need a clean nose free of any boogers. With rapid electric controlled burner operation a big open breathing hole is key. Steam is stopped once at the radiator thermostatic trap - you can't stop it again further down the returns without asking for trouble. Double trapped steam always goes into a destructive fury that pounces on harmless bystander traps. Letting this happen over and over is an expensive joke. If ever steam (not just a whiff of vapor) comes out the breathing nostril, make sure the owners know to call for quick and easy repairs on the radiator traps. To know if the patient is breathing enough to be alive, perform easy CPR. Blow into the system, say at the boiler relief valve and watch what comes back at you when you release your mouth. If there is a cough back, it means you can benefit greatly from poking the nostril into a larger hole (assuming also all your traps aren't busted shut). If everything you blew in comes back at you, you are having serious congestion, your vent hole is probably plugged. Fixing this is imperative. If nothing comes back and an delightful assistant perched over the air eliminator feels your blow of air, you have a very healthy system. Try blowing harder. It is really amazing how easily our very own human lungs can pressurize these wild steam pipes: they were built to operate on maximum 0.5 PSI head loss. We easily blow to 1.5 PSI. Enough to tear down the place. Now, Tom, go do the Frankenstein act, wait for a stormy night, then, from the depth of the boiler room, revive this steam system. I hope this helps. I attach some A.R.T. work for clarity.
@ June 29, 2007 11:51 PM in Bad news for condensing purists...(ME)Thanks Ron for neat comparative numbers. I want to chop up the 10% difference a bit further in an attempt to sort out what might be gained on condensing and what might be otherwise lost to the flue. This I think is a difference worth considering in your two setups. Look up the flue. I know we are all guilty of obsessing about combustion efficiency numbers... and we casually forget to consider what happens in between when the fire is out. Live chimneys made of solid rock provide natural draught we inexpensively pay for with a bit of heat. Modern forced flue arrangements provide solid draught we inexpensively pay for with a bit of electricity. Nothing is ever free. If we'd run both smoke handling devices continuously we'd probably see not much cost difference, if anything at all, the natural flue should be cheaper to operate. This is mostly marginal. However we don't run household boilers continuously throughout the winter (except for the people of this original study...) and this adds a big difference to flue operation. Natural chimneys though efficient at doing what they do, they can never stop themselves. Too much of a good thing quickly turns into a nightmare, chimneys never stop sucking and when the fire is out, they still suck and they keep sniffing up what can be a huge heat loss. Flue dampers help but they are not flue seals either, there is leakage. Forced electric smoke disposal has the huge advantage that we turn it off at the command of a control module. These differences are applicable to any system, air, water, steam, they always provide a benefit but no where so big as in hot water applications. What is there to suck? Without meaning any disparagement towards hot water - because this is a problem that stems from system design - unlike steam and air, the liquid heating fluid does not know where to drop its cargo of heat once the fire is shut off. In hot water, just because of it's massive weight, there is a huge load of heat turning around in circles in the system: to water, the shut off boiler is just as good a place to cool as any other radiator in the home, the boiler is probably an even better place to chill if it is attached to an air sucking flue. The basement breeze sucked up through the boiler is ideal for cooling off the entire system, presuming basement air temperatures are lower than upstairs rooms. The lowest point to dump all the system heat is into the basement air sucked up into the flue. This loss happens every time an old design hot water boiler goes out on fire. There's no doubt in my mind that under the worse conditions these losses can be enormous and well beyond anything labels will tell us. Preventing short cycling minimizes the loss. Primary secondary piping stop a large part of that loss, but not all, because of gravity, water will still travel wherever it pleases. Same thing about draft hoods, they help but not to the last bit. Caravans of boilers avoid loosing big chunks of heat all at once. And the ultimate today in hot water heating is the electric flue mod con machine. Just to put numbers I'm guessing at on Ron's percentages, I would believe studies telling us his observed 10% difference between the electric flue mod con and atmospheric duo to account for one third to the flue condensate squeeze and for two thirds to the off cycle flue cooling losses. What do you think? It's easy to measure, collect the flue juice and give yourself about a 1000 BTU bonus per pound - stack it up against boiler 100 to 80 input output relation and see how good it is. Sources for inefficiencies in hot water heating are numerous. Without listing them all I would link the big ones to system inertia, general overheating of the premises, low temperature inefficiencies, off cycle flue losses, under-radiation problems, fire cycle flue losses, mixing losses, pumping efforts, losses to uninsulated pipes, pilot ignition, blah blah blah... in about that order of decreasing importance, all stuff the yellow labels don't tell us much about. I think with poor system design, there is lots of opportunities to go very wrong on any hot water system. This also makes it all that much a good reason to get things right in the first place and once you get all the wrinkles out, the uniform smoothness of hot water heat is probably impossible to achieve with any other heating method. This doesn't mean either that it is cheaper or more efficient by default. I think Archimedes lounged around in a hot tub a lot. We could also all just huddle under Carol's luxurious down comforter. I'm there already.